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Friday, April 27, 2007

Should Sri Lanka bat first, or second?

So i thought Sri Lanka would do it. Then i pined my hopes on Fleming. Then, on Graeme Smith, again. And now, its Sri Lanka once more. Surely, i'm going to get it right, this time round.

In about 48 hours from now, we will have a new World Cup Cricket Champion. Or will we? It's been 18 years now, and it's getting more and more boring to watch the Australians bull-dozer their way over everyone else. It's frustrating to see that one of the top stories on Cricinfo after the semi-final between Australia and South Africa is on "South Africa's lowest ever ODI scores". Can't get worse, can it? Warnie was probably right when he said that the South Africans are too boring to win the World Cup. Which leaves us with Sri Lanka.

In about 48 hours from now, the Jayawardene-Moody strategy of un-exposing Vaas & Muralidharan may be beginning to be hailed as as a master-stroke. Ponting may lose his control over his tongue yet again and tell the world that it was the illegal Malinga who stopped him from emulating Lloyd. BCCI may rue the fact that they chose Greg Chappell and passed the ace to Sri Lanka. Marvan Attapattu's ODI career may come to a permanent close. So much can happen on the 28th of April 2007. Only if everything goes right - that is. Let's look at just one, the first one.
When Jayawardene goes out for the toss with Ponting at the Kensington Oval, Barbados he cannot forget history. Especially, two decisions. One - which Ganguly made in South Africa after he won the toss in the 2003 World Cup Final. No one can forget the carnage that Ponting and Martyn unleashed on the hapless Indian bowlers. Two - the last one, which Graeme Smith made. Australia's weak link is their bowling..if you want to beat them, the only way is to bat first, put up a good score and put some pressure on the Aussie top order. Unfortunately for Sri Lanka and Jayawardene, there are only two options for the guy who wins the toss - and neither seems to be working against the Australians. What should he do?

One way or the other, I'd go with Ganguly unless there is a threat of the wicket crumbling in the second half. The World Cup final is a big thing, Australia or not. What happened on that day in South Africa cannot be allowed to terrorize the progeny for ever. Gilchrist is not in the best of nick, and Hayden and Ponting will not want to miss out now. Let them face the heat, first. If they come out trumps, well they are good, and you will have to give it to them. But make it more difficult for them - let Ponting and Buchanan worry about what a good score is going to be. Let them worry about making the most of the powerplay overs - before Murali comes in. Batting first, Lanka would be chasing )(an imagined) 300. Batting second, it's unlikely to get much worse. And if it does, there will be the inspiration of the 1996 chase to look upto.

1 comment:

Homer said...

with the wicket expected to be bouncy and a 9:30 Am start, there will be some juice for the bowlers first up.
However, there is rain forecast for today and tomorrow and if rain intervenes, we might see a repeat of the Australia West Indies game and the nullification of the advantages of winning the toss.

The other argument is - win the toss, set a total. The pressure of chasing in a World Cup final can get to the best of teams. If SL post like 250-270, they have the variety in their bowling attack plus Oz is chasing history. The pressure could get to Oz.